The Atlus booth at this year's E3 definitely got a lot of traffic, in no small part due to the fact that the new Trauma team game was being heavily promoted on the show floor. However, even though the new Trauma Team wasn't available to be played, there were quite a few titles that Atlus did bring with them to their booth that were worth checking out.
When I first wandered into the booth, my main goal was to get my hands on Shin Megami Tensei: Persona for the PSP. Sure, it's a remake of the original Revelations: Persona, but it has been almost 14 years since the original release, and the series has experienced ever-expanding growth since then. Luckily, I was able to get some brief hands-on time with the title, and I was able to check out the battle system, which was command-based and used a familiar grid system.
After checking out an RPG on a small system, I went to go check out Demon's Souls, which is the newest action RPG for the PlayStation 3. Getting my hands on it was rather easy, but the game's controls emphasize instant action with the shoulder buttons, which felt a little weird. However, the game did look very good, and I was impressed with the visuals overall.
In addition to Persona and Demon's Souls, Atlus was also showing off current releases like 101-in-1 Party Megamix and upcoming PC game Droplitz. Both Persona and Demon's Souls are looking like great games for their respective systems, and the Atlus Booth was definitely the place to be for RPG enthusiasts.
Codemasters had a very modest presence at this year's E3. They teamed up with Warner Brothers Interactive and shared a booth (and staff) in the South Hall. Warner took up the bulk of the real estate with their huge Lego Rock Band stage and caged of "asylum" for the latest Batman, leaving Codemasters with a few kiosks off to the side. The bulk of their attention was focused on Overlord, an interesting game from 2007 that the Codies are hoping to make into full-blown series.
There were three new games on display. The most prominent, of course is was Overlord II, and followed closely in the tradition of its predecessor. Once again, you take on the role of an evil tyrant with a big battle axe and a horde of small minions at your command. The controls were simple and intuitive, using the right analog stick to direct minions and the rest of the controls behaving like a typical hack and slash. We didn't get to see much in the way of puzzle design, but the very British humor was very apparent. This time Overlord finds himself confronted with an elven animal activist group, and it's his job to oppose them by hacking apart baby seals.
The Wii counterpart, Dark Legend is a prequel developed by Climax Games. It seems to take a similar approach, but with the Wiimote used to command the minions. The system worked well and the game felt faithful to the original, but we do wonder why it had to be a whole unique game. The DS got Overlord Minions, which seems to be an overhead view puzzle/adventure game, with a lot of Zelda-like environmental challenges to overcome.
The other set of kiosks at the Codemasters booth were dedicated to DIRT 2, the latest in the company's long, storied line of rally racing sims (now minus the late, great Colin McRae). The visuals are once again fantastic, and a lot of work has been put into the physics engine, but it's still a very hardcore drving sim with a steep learning curve. We're sure it will please fans, but Codemasters might have to make some compromises if they want to crack into the mainstream in the North American market.
D3 had a small booth inside Namco Bandai, and they had a few licensed games to show off, primarily aimed at little kids. Although these games are all based on kidsí properties, many of them had options that allowed families to jump in on the action as well.
The first game that we got to see was Astro Boy, which is based on the upcoming movie of the same name. The demo we saw was on the Wii, and looked a lot like the old school Mega Man games. The representative from developer High Voltage that we spoke to told us that the game would be comprised of about two-thirds action platforming levels, and the remaining third would be shoot-em-up style levels similar to Ikaruga. It was also confirmed that the game will support simultaneous co-op for a second player.
We were then able to get our hands on the new game based on the Cartoon Network show, The Secret Saturdays. This game, much like Astro Boy, features 2D action platforming, and you'll be able to play as all of the Secret Saturdays team from the TV show. Although the platforming gameplay that we saw was fairly solid, the look of the game was very rough, so hopefully they are able to put some polish on this one before its release.
The final title we saw was Ben Ten Alien Force: Vilgax Attacks. Although this title is going massively multiplayer on multiple platforms, we got some hands-on time with the Xbox 360 version. The game is formatted like the old Tomb Raider games, featuring dark dungeons with complex puzzles to solve. Of course, these puzzles involve changing into the different aliens and harnessing their special powers to flip switches and interact with elemental objects in the environment.
The three games that D3 were showing off at this year's E3 were all targeted squarely towards the younger sect, but if you are interested in licensed properties, they all look like they will do justice to their specific licenses. If I had to pick one that was most impressive, it would be the Ben 10 game, as it seemed to feature the most sophisticated gameplay. But all of the games shown definitely looked like they would appeal to their respective audiences.
Hudson wasn't showing a whole lot this year, but at least it was interesting stuff, which is a good thing.
First, we checked out Miami Law, an upcoming action/adventure game for the Nintendo DS that features two agents of the law, Detective Martin Law and FBI Agent Sara Starling. The game design will remind you of other action-drama titles such as Trauma Center, Time Hollow, Hotel Dusk, etc. However, the gameplay has its own twists, as you'll be opting between the two characters numerous times throughout the game, sometimes choosing the most active path (shootouts, car chases) and other times going for the analysis-driven approach (fingerprint collecting, crime scene analysis). Check out our full hands-on preview HERE.
The other game they were showing is Deca Sports 2, a new and improved version of the original with ten new sport challenges such as Ice Hockey, Tennis, Darts, Synchronized Swimming, etc. The game will come out this fall and will feature Wi-Fi capabilities for online play with up to four players, depending on the challenge. That's definitely an upgrade! You can also customize your players, complete single-player challenges against the CPU to practice and improve your stats, etc. From what we played, the controls seem pretty user-friendly and they're definitely accessible for anyone, unlike other Wii games in this genre.
No info available yet.
With Star Wars: The Old Republic appearing downstairs at EA's massive booth, LucasArts had a reduced presence at the show, holding their meetings in one of the meeting rooms upstairs. By now, all we tend to expect at a Lucas booth are the latest Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, so I was absolutely stunned when I saw their top priority this year was a pair of new releases for the Monkey Island franchise. Just a few years after Lucas stomped down near-finished Sam & Max and Full Throttle sequels, Monkey Island returns in classic adventure game form. That's quite a change of heart.
The flagship for this summer revival will be Tales of Monkey Island, a 5-part episodic adventure game series developed by Telltale Games. While Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer obviously can't be involved, Telltale has a great team of veterans of the series and genre that seem to really understand it. The graphics, while perhaps compromised for the lowest common denominator that is the Wii, look great, and the environments look larger and more detailed than in previous Telltale series. They showed off a system for combining inventory items, as well as the return of dialog trees, which should bring back some fuzzy memories for any fan of the series.
To the left of Tales was a demonstration of a new enhanced version if the original Secret of Monkey Island for Xbox Live Arcade and PC. We saw the Xbox version, and we reluctantly have to admit that it's very disappointing. The enhanced remake sports all new, redrawn 2D artwork at HD resolution, a new interface (that eliminates the verb table at the bottom of the screen) and full voice acting. Unfortunately, the new artwork isn't very good at all. In fact, it looks a bit amateurish, and the close-up portraits during dialog absolutely butcher the wonderfully subtle originals. There is an option to switch back and forth to the original at any time, which is interesting, but switching to the original graphics also means losing the new sound and new interface, which is a serious drag. To make matters worse, the original mode is stretched to fit the screen without any filtering, leaving the image ugly and distorted. We're glad to see the classic coming back, but a big company like LucasArts should be able to scrape up better artists.
No info available yet.